E. F. Benson has created one of the wonders of literature - two characters which you almost cannot like, up against one another - and the outcome makes absolutely wonderful and witty reading. This is the final instalment of the Risenholme/Tilling series. It was published first in 1939 and Benson died a year later.
Definitely trouble for Lucia, - trouble in the form of Miss Mapp-Flint predominantly - but also Lucia's overweening ego. Having moved from Riseholme to Miss Mapp's stomping ground of Tilling, Lucia has a rival she must really battle. Daisy Quantock of Risenholme is nothing to Miss Mapp (now of course Mrs Mapp-Flint). Of course Lucia moved to Tilling some time before, bringing Georgie with her - we saw her progress in the two previous novels - however the joke never seems to fade.
Lucia is still practising her false Italian, and her pseudo artistic pursuits - however this time she is mayor of Tilling. All venom is sugar coated and presented with perfectly in place smiles, and it all takes place in the tiny confines of Tilling. Although the deserving poor are mentioned it seems the whole village of Tilling revolves around a small cast of wonderfully drawn characters - Lucia and her now husband Georgie, Colonel and Mrs Mapp-Flint, Mr and Mrs Wyse, the Vicar and his mousie wife, Diva and 'quaint Irene'. No other characters really have anything to say - they might pass in and out of the action such as Foljambe (Georgies indispensible maid) and various town councillors - but they are never crowded into the scene.
The crises tend to be small - but the village is small so they become larger than life and the repercussions are hilarious - There is bridge to be played - and when Lucia decides that, as mayor she must set an example and not gamble for money she finds there are few supporters. Lucia must wangle her way out of a party which includes Italian speakers, and wangle her way _into_ an invitation to stay the night with a Duchess. There is the terrible irony of the unflattering portrait of Mrs Mapp-Flint which goes on to win picture of the year in London to be dealt with - and then there is the mystery (for the village anyway) of Colonel Mapp-Flint's missing crop - the one which he hit the tiger with across the nose before shooting it. Most marvellously there is the resolution of the unfortunate death of Blue Birdie, Susan Wyse's much beloved Budgerigaar. And while much of this might sound familiar from other Lucia novels, they are as freshly drawn as ever.
E F Benson doesn't bother with suspense for his readers - we always know where the riding crop is - or who Lucia will select as her mayoress - the joy of these novels is finding out _how_ this will happen. Things which begin in a chapter early on, might not reach their conclusion until near the end of the book.
It is such a pity the Lucia's ended here -there seems so much room to continue the shenanigans in Tilling, especially with all the promise of the war years. If you haven't read a Lucia before - start at the beginning with Queen Lucia and work your way through them. They only really make proper sense in order as there are characters and activities which cast right back to the first novel which won't really be amusing unless you have read them in order.